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The Sniff Code

Note: this isn’t about mental illness. This is just some of the other things that cross my mind from time to time during the day that inspire me to write something different. Things that make me go: hmmmm.

Hey ladies, want to hear a man-secret?

We have a bathroom code all our own.


Kind of like this except mirror image, smaller and can’t see under the door for the telltale feet. Ok, so we’re clear on that.

In my office, the men’s room has one urinal and one stall. That’s it. Not too many people work on the floor, but just enough do so that there is always a risk that someone will be in the john when you want to go.

This is the set up of the men’s room in countless small offices.

Now if the guy is at the urinal, you have a choice: you can sidle past him and do your business in the stall toilet because, well, it can handle numbers one and two. Most guys prefer not to do the dangerous ‘tango around the guy with a stream’ because, well, you know. Ugh. ‘Excuse me’ in this case means ‘I really gotta take a shit so I’m sorry but I’ll try not to bump you so please don’t piss on me.’


If there are guys at the urinal and the toilet, you still have a choice, in fact you have two choices: you can turn on your heel and leave, which is kind of embarrassing, or, you can pretend that you only came in to wash your hands or grab a paper towel and then you do so – quickly, because there’s no telling how soon the guy at the urinal is going to be finished and it’s a SERIOUS breach of protocol to have two people waiting on the sink.


No such luck in our little stinky corner of the floor.

We may be men and it may be our nature, but we believe in smooth, efficient transitions – one in the urinal, one in the stall, and, if necessary, one at the sink but only one or things get weird. I don’t know why, they just do.

Now here is the secret code and it being the one that regulates the men’s room space in the most common situation – where the urinal is unoccupied, but someone is laying pipeline in the stall.

So, when one enters the restroom and there is someone in the stall, to prevent the embarrassing ‘look in the stall’ or ‘jiggle the stall handle’ only to find someone in there, it is customary for the person in the stall to sniff.

The sniff is sacrosanct.

We all do it to save our fellow man from the embarrassing situation detailed above. Also, it spares the guy on the shitter from either having another guy look at his junk while pooping or having to squeal out ‘occupied,’ or ‘I’m in here,’ or ever worse, ‘sorry.’

Also, if I choose the urinal option after the sniff I know well enough I’m not alone in there and shouldn’t start singing anything like ‘Baba O’Reilly.’

Out here in the fields
I fight for my meals
I get my back into my living

Yes, it happened once. I got a snicker from the stall.

If you’re on the pot and hear the door open, it’s proper etiquette to make a loud sniffing noise and the person entering will know that the stall is occupied and they’ll either take a leak or pretend they were just in there to wash their hands, which pretty much is always a ruse for ‘I really had to take a shit but you were in there and I’m not going to piss where you can see and hear me through the door crack so I’ll wash my hands and try the restroom on the floor below us; thanks asshole.’

Variants: a cough is also OK if it can clearly be heard. Most men don’t cough because one can cough out of embarrassment. Everyone must breathe, however, so at some point everyone must sniff. I’m a believer that colds notwithstanding, at least have of all men’s sniffs are sniffed in a bathroom stall.

The clearing of the throat is also an acceptable variant. It’s less obvious than a cough and acceptable as a warning. Many men prefer this method to the sniff if my informal survey over the years is any indication.

I HAVE worked in offices with the same restroom set up (cough, cough, Army Recruiting, cough, cough) where farts, belches and ecstatic gasps were acceptable both with officers and enlisted men. If you work in one of these offices, you have my sympathy unless you are the kind of guy who likes to play ‘longest stream’ at urinals. Yes, this is a thing among some guys, usually in junior high.

So, there you have it – the sniff, the universal sign of ‘I’m in the stall, so you don’t have to look through the slits in the door or jiggle the handle.’

I wonder what women do?


Posted in funny, men, work | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Geez, knees

It’s been awhile and I suppose I should write something.


Where’s the AR-15 silhouette? The ‘lock her up’ sticker?


Still here in exile in Dixie for 40 more days. I’m thoroughly tired of Confederate flags, ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ license plates and a general feeling that people here are not as nice as they may seem at first. Just don’t talk about the war, or race, or Trump, or . . . hell, if you’re a Yankee, just keep it to yourself.


What I see when I see these plates

I went to do some grocery shopping this morning. My car is covered in pollen. Thankfully I do not have allergies.

The hotel disgorged its usual large groups of youth sports teams this morning and now all is very quiet. I like quiet but then I am getting up there in years and I have an aversion to noise anyway.

I have been avoiding as best I can, TV news. I still read WaPo and NYT which is bad enough, but I pay for them, so I feel obligated to depress myself daily. To give up caring would be the smart thing, but I still find it hard to do. Until I’m dead, I’m unfortunately a part of this world and this country for better or worse. And I still hate getting blindsided by bad news.

I don’t know how I’m going to successfully wean off Ativan. Right now, I really depend on the little white pills to keep the baying hounds of desperation from my door. I suppose it will get better when I get home. I can’t say for sure – nothing in this life with this illness is predictable.


Y’all have this to look forward to


Boy have I put on weight since I’ve been down here! I remember what I said I was going to do – exercise, eat right, etc. But I ran into reality and that all fell apart quickly. Vince Lombardi once said fatigue makes cowards of us all. But Lombardi never had Borderline, anxiety and PTSD.

But something will have to be done about the weight. For the last six months I’ve become very aware of my knees cracking every time I get up from the couch. Now I’m starting to notice occasional pain. Do I face the choice of bariatric surgery or knee replacement surgery? I’ve seen both and I think the former is better in the long run. But not by much.

Food is a drug. Our cravings develop in childhood. My mother was a lousy cook, my parents spent what they had left on food, and sweets and treats were very rare while boiled broccoli, burned roasts and emergency chop suey dinners were plentiful. When you grow up like that, the lack of food you like seems like neglect and the force feeding of food you hate seems like abuse. So, when I got out of the house on my own and I could ‘but whatever the Hell I wanted’ in the words of both parents I did. And promptly gained 10 pounds in three months. Kids get set up in America with bad diets. We’re bombarded with ads for sugary cereals and other junk as kids and when we go to school, the popular kids have Hostess and I was lucky if I had an occasional Little Debbie. My how the tables have turned with those two brands, eh?

But once cravings are set, they are almost impossible to control, I don’t care what anyone says. And genetics determine a lot about how big or small your body will want to be. Diets almost always fail. And the society that shoves all this crap at us through advertising then shames us for getting fat after eating it. I’m through with shame but my knees cry out for relief. So, something will have to be done.


The only people who like Ativan more than me are nurses. Nurses love that shit. Makes bad patients good. 

When I came back from shopping the anxiety had hit so bad, so fast, that my lower lip was literally trembling. I took 1 mg of Ativan and sat down to write. 30 minutes later, I’m better. I seriously don’t know what I’m going to do about Ativan. I know what my shrink wants. My shrink does not know how it feels. I’m tapering off booze to more special occasions. I don’t need it, my liver doesn’t need it, and it does nothing for the feels. But when we bought the house it came with a nifty bar which encouraged me to fancy myself a suave keeper of spirits. I don’t need liquor to smoke a cigar.

I think the silence of my lonely room would be easier to take if my ears didn’t ring so furiously. Some days it’s like hearing a gale force wind. Other days, like today, it’s more like whistling radio static. And I hear it – night and day.

Posted in ativan, Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, Fat Shaming, getting old, growing up, loneliness, meds, mental health, Richmond, VA, tinnitus | Leave a comment

Hotel Chronicles: The Unbearable Ugliness of Cheap Stucco

20190310_152433What color are these walls?

I’m not sure. They seem to be some kind of blend of tan and something else – perhaps peach and vanilla and some kind of red berry you get in the special section at Wegmans. In any case, it’s a color scheme you often see on commercial buildings in the late Capitalist period.

The front of the Hyatt House (Short Pump, VA, just NW of Richmond VA) is more interesting of course. Interesting in that there are some reassuring late Capitalist architectural doo-dads that seem to indicate some kind of old-timey lodging with enough modern panache to reassure the somewhat upscale traveler.

The Short Pump Town Center Mall (that’s the official name) that the Hyatt is attached to, was completed in 2003. The hotel came along 2009. It looks to me like the hotel was assembled somewhere else of compartmentally segregated Lego block-type materials and then slid right between the Dicks and the restaurant. It was a piece that fit to complete the puzzle.

There are many like the Hyatt in America but this one is mine for the spring. The staff is friendly, the rooms are, as I’ve said before, somewhat bland and sterile but comfortable, well-appointed and well maintained. I can’t quite say the same yet for the pool area, but that’s another story for another day.

What I ask of these places is this: are they even trying, in the least way, to inspire people? What I mean is, the grand hotels of the past were of themselves as destination. They offered excitement, breathtaking architecture and the assuredness of good service. Each of them had it’s own character and style which was, after all, the point.

Nowadays, since the rise of the Holiday Inns, certainty has replaced discovery in most aspects of American travel life – hotels, chain restaurants, rest areas – all seem to look faintly the same at any give time of history since the 1960s. Recall what these three buildings looked like in the 70s – homogenization had taken hold. So they ‘evolved’ in a certain way to a new style. And today, the Hyatt looks like the attached outdoor mall.

Is this bad? Many people my age might have some nostalgic pangs for the now-disappearing mansard-roofed McDonald’s but be honest: don’t you like the new designs (minus the kiosks) better?

And yet I look at the Hyatt and Short Pump and wish, for nothing but a splash of color here or an unexpected architectural quirk there. At the mall, even the different fountains look like they were ordered from Home Depot.


The hard cold charm of the Short Pump Mall

But over all of this, the Mall and the hotel need to pull off one big thing – they have to look rich while being made cheaply. This they do and you can tell that by looking closely at the materials used, especially the God-awful stucco that is so in vogue nowadays.

If I’m honest, I’m as guilty as anyone. I could have stayed in many different areas of Richmond but I carefully chose this monstrosity of modern commercial convenience. I’m assured that even though the architecture of the place will be soul killing, the bed will be comfortable. And if I need anything, anything at all, it’s probably less than a mile away.

I was warned about the commute I bought myself. In the beginning, the 30 minute drive to work was irritating but now I accept it as the cost of staying where I’m at.

But still, after everything I’ve written, I am absolutely fascinated by this place. It’s almost a world unto itself. It succeeded before, during and after the Great Recession because people wanted it. And still do. It may not say great things about our taste or sense of adventure but sociologists and cultural anthropologists would be wise to come here and study the place and its people.

Short Pump, which was named after the short-handled pump under a mid-19th century tavern may share the line that Gertrude Stein said of Oakland: “The trouble with Oakland is that when you get there, there isn’t any there there.”

At least Oakland was a city – Short Pump is a vast wasteland of upscale shops, notwithstanding the Wal-Mart that the community tried so hard to hide from the road.


Straight ahead to the right. What? You can’t see it? It’s right there. Sign? You need a sign?


Ah yeah, that man-made forest hides Short Pump’s shame. They’ll take Wal-Mart’s money but for God’s sakes, don’t tell the neighbors!

I would call it ‘the nowhere that everyone wants to go there.’

But again, if you’re going to put art in a hotel room, give it some thought.

At least most of the buildings around here are too short for suicide attempts.

Posted in Adventure!, art, Distractions, Richmond, VA | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A philosophy worth exploring


Currently reading

So, I have an opportunity to learn something that I feel will help me master the issues caused by Borderline Personality Disorder.

The discovery has arisen from discussions about toxic masculinity and the constant reference to men who are victims of a mindset which turns them into malevolent Gary Coopers – strong and silent but destructive due to not being able to cry or show other emotion. The word stoicism generally appears in these discussions and, having only a passing familiarity with the term, decided to do some research.

When you look up the online definition of stoicism, this is what you will see:





the endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint.

synonyms: patience, forbearance, resignation, lack of protest, lack of complaint, fortitude, endurance, acceptance, acceptance of the inevitable, fatalism, philosophicalness, impassivity, dispassion, phlegm, imperturbability, calmness, coolness, cool; More


an ancient Greek school of philosophy founded at Athens by Zeno of Citium. The school taught that virtue, the highest good, is based on knowledge; the wise live in harmony with the divine Reason (also identified with Fate and Providence) that governs nature and are indifferent to the vicissitudes of fortune and to pleasure and pain.

When talking about toxic masculinity, most people making their points seem to refer to the first definition. I wondered – yes, this is part of stoicism but not all of it and, in of itself, is this a completely bad thing?

The more complete and accurate definition is the second one. There is a LOT to unpack in that definition and I won’t get into it here, but I was intrigued and in between watching football, I started researching online resources of stoicism and stoic thinking. The more I read, the more intrigued I became.

I will continue writing (or journaling, although I hate that word, just write for Heaven’s sakes) about it but I put some of what I read last night into immediate practice.

We have two small vintage glass bowls that were part of a serving set, circa 1960. I use them to put salsa and dip into. Last night, watching football, I had used one of them for salsa. My wife dropped it on the ground and it shattered.

I put what I had just read into practice immediately. What I usually experience when things like this happen is being easily startled which makes my nerves jump. This is because I fear how my wife will react and how I will react and equally important, how I will feel about the loss of this small bowl. When my wife gets angry, I get nervous, feeling that if I do not react the right way, she will turn her anger on me because that was the mechanism of anger/fear in my childhood. Also, the loss of an item like this bowl most often makes me upset since it is a vintage piece and I will feel as though the universe has chosen to break it to spite me. In addition, this incident interrupts my watching of football which would normally cause me to become irate and angry.

Whew – that’s an awful lot of bullshit over an accidental breaking of a small glass bow isn’t it? And that is precisely the point.

So, my new thinking process was this: the small glass bowl is not worth that much money at all and is easily replaceable. We had two, now we have one. My wife should not be made to feel bad over an accident like this – no one is hurt, the bowl is easily replaceable, it will take a but a few minutes to clean up. I assured her that it was no big deal, she needn’t be upset, and I resolved for these reasons, not to be upset over it either. As for the game, it is a game, you will know what happened, it will not impact your life and to ascribe that kind of importance to it is silly. It is one of many games and you’ll only be distracted for a minute or so and that’s why instant replay exists.

Here’s practical wisdom from the website Daily Stoicism that sums it all up:

Every situation is made better by a cool head. Even powerful people who know that anger is a powerful and effective tool will tell you that there is a big difference between deliberately expressing your frustrations (to make a point, to motivate someone, to defend yourself) and flying off the handle. Without the ability to recognize and direct your emotions, you become a slave to them.

Not getting upset over so small an issue may seem like a no brainer to you. But for someone like me, it is hardly easy because I have trained myself to see such irritations as being specifically visited upon me because the universe or God, hates me and wants me to be miserable.

Crazy, isn’t it? Crazy it is.

Part of the whole philosophy of stoicism is that bad things happen, and that one can only control one’s reaction to them. And, I wondered, how many times have I heard this from therapists? Why do I take stock in it now – simple: because I discovered it on my own.

The more I read, the more it made perfect sense to me – I could get angry – but what would anger change? If could only make the situation far worse than it is and it wasn’t a big deal to begin with.

It’s funny how lights can go off in our heads when we discover classic truths like these on our own after being told the same thing literally hundreds of times. But these are not ideas in isolation – they are part of a whole body of philosophy that addresses literally ALL the issues that our BPD amplifies to make us miserable. So, in this way, it was different for me. This was not just some pseudo-babble catch phrase but a building block of an entire philosophy which offers great relief for those like me, who are prisoners of their emotions and their past reactions to adversity.

What I will close with is this thought – reading the first building blocks of stoicism, it was obvious that even though the concepts seem blindingly simple and sensible, nothing about it would be easy in practice. But therapy isn’t easy, life isn’t easy and nothing good comes easy. After 40+ years of misery, it seems like it is time for me to give this century old tried and true practical philosophy a serious try. I have nothing to lose but anger and fear.

Posted in Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, bullshit, childhood terror, stoicism | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Sins of the Father

I had, what for me, was a disturbing revelation a few days ago.

I recently strained my rotator cuff in my right shoulder. I did it in my sleep, which is another story entirely. I was prescribed physical therapy and off I went.

My therapist is a woman but one-time last week, she had a male student therapist assist me.

This is hard for me to write about. I had a problem with him touching me, even just on the arm and hands. He was consummately professional and there was nothing untoward in the slightest. I just couldn’t wait for the session to be over.

I don’t have this issue with being touched by a woman therapist. Or doctor (almost all of them have been women my adult life). Or seeing a female therapist (all but two of the 33 in my life have been women).


Believe me when I tell you it has nothing to do with homophobia. I have been a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community all my adult life and have had many gay friends (when I used to have friends). In fact, they are the men (and women) I feel most comfortable being around.

I gave it some thought and the answer came to me although it should have been obvious from the start. Like so many issues with my fucked up mental health, it wasn’t so obvious until I decided to deduce the reason.

My father. As I have written in previous blog entries, he was both physically, sexually and psychologically abusive to me growing up. The sexual abuse was only a few years around the ages of 5-8. The other abuse started shortly after that and continued until he died when I was 20.

There’s the whole ‘good touch/bad touch’ methodology that therapists have used with people who were abused, most often with children. Sadly, it seems the need for this kind of therapy and training is growing as more abuse that was either hidden or not talked about comes out into the light.

A bad touch is a bad touch, there is no denying it. I’m feeling nauseated even writing about this now as my memory runs back to those days. I ask myself – what was the ‘worse’ of the bad touching: fondling or getting smacked in the face? I guess it’s a tossup for me.

What I am gradually coming to realize is how much this has affected the trajectory of my life. And the more I realize this, the more I hate it. It’s not that I didn’t have male friends – I did and still have them on Facebook. But men don’t talk to men about these things and, by extension, they don’t discuss feelings of inadequacy or unease in marriages, child rearing and relationships in general that go back to childhood abuse. There was no reason to talk about these things to my high school friends since I didn’t even realize what happened to me was not normal until many years later.

High school memory – we had this kind of a deacon, the ‘Reverend Mister’ and I’ll leave his last name out of this (typical Catholic school sex pervert). He was later busted for molesting underage girls, many of whom had their school photo pinned to the wall behind his desk (there were like 150 photos). Anyway, I’m 18 and he keeps asking me every time he sees me, when I’m going to come into his office and ‘talk’ about my future or some such nonsense.

I wanted to tell him ‘NEVER, BECAUSE YOU FREAK ME OUT YOU FUCKING PERV.’ To say I got the creepy vibe from him was a gross understatement. I count him as the first guy I backed away from. Considering I had a bad experience with my first therapist, a man my mom forced me to see when I was 14, a trend was even then starting to develop.

(deep, heavy, sad, sigh)

I keep coming back to this essay and so it gets longer. Sorry.


Hostages, at left. His moods could turn on a dime, at right.

Or when I was 15, when my mother decided the whole family needed group therapy so she dragged us in to a small room with a male therapist who tried to figure out what our problem was.

My problem was the man sitting right next to me. But what was I going to do – tell this stranger about the hitting, the threats, the put-downs and how my dad made me feel like a worm? Was this therapist going to come home with us with a couple of cops to make sure I didn’t get the shit beat out of me for revealing that information? Of course not. We sat there like a hostage on a phone call telling our loved ones were being well treated and would be just fine as the ransom was paid.

Strangely enough (or not), it was my mother who much later would deny that my father ever hit me. It was also my mother, when I scalded myself with boiling tea and ran frantically into the living room trying to tell her what had happened, slapped me full across the face. And my father drove me to the ER and I thought HE was going to slap me on the way there for breaking a glass pitcher and inconveniencing him.

(OK, I’m DONE FOR NOW. But great gracious fuck, all this stuff happened 40 years ago and YOU NEVER EVER FORGET IT. In my mind and my nervous system, it was still like yesterday.

I created this blog and the Facebook page so I could keep this stuff off my regular Facebook page. I still would rather my male friends from high school not read it.

So, look at the people who like this page. And look at my friends list on my main Facebook page. What do you notice? 154 out of my 192 Facebook friends (not counting 1 cat) are female. Draw your own conclusions.

No great revelations here – abuse fucks up a person’s life. The only new nugget of wisdom to me is just how much it does and how in many cases, the realization of the degree only comes gradually throughout the years.

But I’m not sure of some things even now. Like, how much of my self-hatred is rooted in this abuse? Did I somehow cause a feedback mechanism in my behavior as an adult to reinforce these negative feelings about myself, meaning, did my actions cause people to react negatively to me in ways that reinforced self-hatred?

I suspect the answer is yes, but over the span of a lifetime, it’s hard to be completely sure.

I don’t have completely healthy relationships and never have. I know why but it’s too late now to do much about it except try to recognize my motivations and reactions and mitigate them.

I am really nauseated and getting a headache as I write this essay. But for some reason I had to write it. But now I have to stop.

Posted in abuse, Catholic school, childhood terror, Facebook, growing up, mental health, my father, shame | Tagged , | 2 Comments

If you need me, I’ll be down here

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players,
They have their exits and entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,

The day after Christmas.


I have my wife and my two closest friends, pictured here.

There was, as usual, a good deal of reflection on the past this Christmas. There was a time in the not too distant past when remembering the past holidays with family and friends would make me genuinely weepy and sorrowful. These breakdowns were akin to having a close member of the family die, but they were worse – I was morning and entire family and world I knew that had died many years ago. But the Ghosts of Christmas Pasts would come back to haunt me every year.

Except this year. It’s not that I didn’t think about the memories and people of the past; it’s just I can raise no emotion over it at all. I’m just numb. Nothing made me weepy and God knows, I tried. But even Greg Lake’s ‘Father Christmas, which was always a good bet to get the waterworks flowing, registered just a shrug.

I’m not sure whether this is good or bad. The holidays have become so dull and ordinary that the time I take off work becomes just another series of days to drink and smoke and watch football. Perhaps this numbness is not so ‘bad’ as it is bothersome to me. It’s completely antithetical to decades of previous experience. I’m left with the notion that something is off in my head – significant but perhaps not serious.

Are the medications? I don’t know. Is it the latest series of social disappointments? I don’t know. Is it the result of running out of the energy that is a byproduct of anxiety? Don’t know. Has it simply been enough time passing that the memories are fading, and the future is so bleak that it’s not worth the effort to expend the emotional energy to mourn? Perhaps.

There is only my wife and myself. I ran up Christmas Eve to take my sons to lunch and exchange gifts which took about six hours of the day and that was the extent of ‘family’ Christmas activities. I spent a good deal of the drive monitoring the Stock Market. How ‘Joyeaux Noel’ is that?

I’m writing in the basement where I now spend a good deal of my time. It is a place where I feel safe and unexposed (from people ringing the doorbell and snipers lining me up through the living room window). Also, the cat rarely comes down here and when I’m upstairs, she’s usually crawling all over me. It’s fine for 10-15 minutes but after an hour of her constant demanding attention, I start losing my patience. This is also why I can never have a dog.

The basement contains everything I could want – a big screen TV, a restroom, a fully stocked bar, a library (whose books I’m too bored and attention-deficit to read) and a museum made up of bits and pieces of my life and American history. Some of my collections are down here too should I ever want to look at coins and matchbooks. Old framed newspapers hang on the walls, some are my stories, some are from history. The furniture is comfy and there’s always the exit through the garage should I need some air.

I wonder what this room really means to me? Is it the adult version of the bedroom I hid myself away in while growing up? I spent most of my formative years in my bedroom because I was afraid of my father and wanted to be left alone by my sister. I had no friends I could play with after awhile and I spent most of my time reading, doodling, listening to the radio and watching TV.

As in the beginning so at the end? Possibly. If my life is to end down here it will be largely because I’ve run out of other places to be where I feel comfortable. Also, if this is my own private tomb, I have done a good job furnishing it Egyptian-style with all the toys and memories I’d like to take to the afterlife.

But it is sad to be alone down here, even as much as I need to be alone.

I mentioned earlier my books. I have around 300-400 of them down here and I never read them. I buy books and books are bought for me and then carefully shelved and never read. I simply don’t have the patience or attention span anymore to get involved in a book. That IS very sad to me and I try to force myself to read some of them. But I just can’t work up any enthusiasm. Where I sleep has traditionally been a repository for a stack of bedside books. Now I just have my smart phone and watch You Tube before bed.

In a similar vein, I don’t watch much TV except for news and sports. I pay for a subscription to Netflix that I rarely use (similar to my subscription to Planet Fitness which I will mention in a bit). I have tried watching some shows like ‘Broken Mirror,’ ‘Boardwalk Empire’ and ‘This is Us’ but the problem I have is that it’s hard for me to put eyes on for a whole hour AND, even more importantly, I find myself getting too emotionally involved in the drama which rubs off on my mood. I’ve given up completely on ‘Broken Mirror’ despite the fact I think it’s masterful storytelling. Some of the episodes have put the hook in me to such a degree it has taken an entire day to decompress from the emotional impact.

I don’t want to get involved in fictional drama. This was never a problem before, but in the last few years it has become one. So, what do I watch other then news and sports? True crime. Figure that. But even some of those are getting to me as well, so I switch over to ghost stories which I generally feel are exaggerated dramatizations containing small kernels of truth. Most of the time my eyes are on this screen, going through news source after news source until I’ve read everything and then I watch car crash videos on You Tube or some such agreeable time wasters.

As for the Planet Fitness subscription, I find no desire in me to get fit. For what purpose? To live longer? In this world? Who would I be impressing by getting fit? What would I do with all the ‘energy’ and ‘confidence’ that being in shape would bring? Spend more time working harder at a job I hate?  I no longer care about such things. I have tried many, many times in my life to get and stay in shape and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not just in me. I have given up, yes. Again, what would be the point? I should go down and cancel my membership but the whole this is embarrassing to me. I wish these things could be done by email.

This is not how I had ever envisioned my late middle ages. I was supposed to be featured on television news panels, giving my take on current events or discussing the contents of my column in The Washington Post. Instead, I can always look at my clippings from The Peoria Journal-Star or Cedar Rapids Gazette, and wonder what might have been if I had been able to master my mental demons.

My wife makes efforts to pull me out of the tomb. I’m careful to note how many times I say ‘no’, so I can throw in an occasional ‘yes’ out of a sense of obligation to a shared marriage. My wife goes out alone often. I hope she understands.

I have two trips upcoming to see Broadway shows in New York. For reasons I can’t explain, I want to do that. But I do not want to go to the local zoo or anywhere else around here. I have nothing against Pittsburgh, it’s a perfectly fine place. But too many negative things have already happened here, and I have no desire to either experience anything or get involved with anything local. The last straw was the breakup with the local mental health organization I had become so involved with. It has been almost three months since that happened and I now feel resolute in my conviction that I am done socially – with anything.

After cycling through depression, PTSD, GAD and BPD, at this age I have finally realized that I am bad company for the most part, and that interpersonal conflicts will result and be crushing to me and that, at 56, hardly anyone gives a shit what I think.

So here I am in the basement tomb, pretending I’m writing to thousands of people like I used to do at the Gazette and Journal-Star (while refraining from podcast pretending that I’m a radio host again – that would be TOO painful for me).

Which takes me back to a memory when I was around 8 or 9 and spun 45 records on a small kids turntable, pretending I was a top 40 DJ. There I was, keying up BJ Thomas or Tommy James and the Shondells and talking out loud to no one in particular save for the audience in my head.

Occasionally I would play this Statler Brothers’ 45:

It’s good to see you, I must go, I know I look a fright
Anyway my eyes are not accustomed to this light
And my shoes are not accustomed to this hard concrete
So I must go back to my room and make my day complete

Countin’ flowers on the wall
That don’t bother me at all
Playin’ solitaire till dawn with a deck of fifty-one
Smokin’ cigarettes and watchin’ Captain Kangaroo
Now don’t tell me I’ve nothin’ to do

Posted in Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, Christmas, death, depression, getting old, holidays, loneliness, mental health, middle age, New York City, radio, regret, social anxiety, When we were very young, Wonder Years | Leave a comment

A Different Drummer

Trigger warnings: news, politics.

There’s a cute game people play around the holidays. Basically, the game is trying to avoid hearing any version of ‘Little Drummer Boy’ whether it be on the radio, TV, Internet or even office carolers. If you can make it to Christmas Day without hearing the song, you win.

What you win, I have no idea. It’s almost impossible to get to Christmas Day without hearing the song. Personally, I prefer the Harry Simeone Chorale version, which reminds me of Christmases of the past, especially when I was a kid. My parents had the album; now I have their album.


This album

There are other versions, of course – LOTS of versions. Many people like the tender Bing Crosby-David Bowie version. Side note: indicative of my memory issues, it took a full two minutes to remember David Bowie’s name.

There’s also Johnny Cash (the first cover, in 1959), Josh Groban, the Jackson 5, Faith Hill, Bob Dylan and so many others. But I hear a different version this year.

People my age and older will remember when Simon and Garfunkel did a version of ‘Silent Night’ retitled Silent Night/7 O’clock News (click link to listen) in 1966. The duo starts out doing a beautiful rendition of the carol but about 20 seconds into the song, something’s not quite right: a broadcaster is heard, softly at first and then progressively louder, reading a typical newscast of the day.

“Dr. Martin Luther King says he does not intend to cancel plans for an open
housing march Sunday into the Chicago suburb of Cicero.
Cook County Sheriff Richard Ogleby asked King to call off the march and the
police in Cicero said they would ask the National Guard to be called out if it is held.”

Gradually, the duo’s tender Silent Night fades out as the newscaster’s reading becomes louder, eventually overwhelming the singing:

“Former Vice-President Richard Nixon says that unless there is a substantial
increase in the present war effort in Vietnam, the U.S. should look forward
to five more years of war.

In a speech before the Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in New York,
Nixon also said opposition to the war in this country is the greatest single
weapon working against the U.S

That’s the 7 o’clock edition of the news, good night.”

Every time I hear it (and it’s rarely played nowadays) I get something in my eye, if you catch my drift.

The sixties were not all Beatles, peace, love and hippies. It was a tumultuous time in America. The country was literally ripped apart by opposition to the Vietnam War. The protests often turned violent, leading to the deaths of five Kent State University students on May 4, 1970. The discord tore apart families and nearly destroyed the Democratic Party. Two Kennedy brothers, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were assassinated. America’s simmering racial issues exploded, resulting in riots in Watts (Los Angeles) and Hough (Cleveland) among many others.

I only remember the tail end of the decade.

Now there is no shooting war to divide the American people. Oh, there’s war all right but it’s ignored: other people’s sons and daughters fight it. Oh wait, did I say there was no ‘shooting war?’ I’m wrong — there most certainly is: in the streets, homes, schools and other public places of America there is most certainly a shooting war. Almost every day we see the dead pile up from one mass shooting or another.

And our politics have become a war of all Americans against all Americans. What side are you on: Libtard? Deplorable? This war, like the one in the sixties, is also tearing American families and society apart. This time, however, there may be no reconciliation but more bloody retributions.

And so, it is


Nowadays. . .

Christmas. And the same songs are being played everywhere including my beloved ‘Little Drummer Boy.’

But I hear a different tune marked with a different drummer. This drum is not so much from a young child with a skin covered instrument that goes ‘rum-pum-pum-pum.’ I hear a more menacing, louder, martial drumbeat, like a machine gun: ‘rat-a-tat-tat.’ Like Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Silent Night,’ as the song continues, the softness fades and the drumbeat gets louder until it drowns out the singing as if marching off to war.

And a different newscast plays:


Come they told me
Pa rum pum pum pum

A new born king to see
Pa rum pum pum pum

Our finest gifts we bring
Pa rum pum pum pum

To lay before the king
Pa rum pum pum pum,
Rum pum pum pum,
Rum pum pum pum

The jury in the first degree murder trial of twenty-one-year-old James A. Fields Jr. retired for deliberations yesterday in Charlottesville. The jury must agree on Field’s state of mind when he drove his car into a crowd of people, killing thirty-two-year-old Heather Heyer who joined hundreds in the streets protesting an ‘United the Right’ rally to defend Confederate statues in this Virginia city last year.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Nina-Alice Antony told jurors that before leaving his Ohio home for Virginia, Field’s mother told her son to be careful. He replied to her with a meme of Hitler, and a message saying, quote, “We’re not the ones who need to be careful.”

So to honor him
Pa rum pum pum pum
When we come

Pum pum pum pum
Pa rum pum pum
Pum pum pum pum

The New York Times reported Thursday that CBS paid more than $5 million in hush money to an employee who accused late 60 Minutes creator Don Hewitt of repeated sexual assault and destroying her career. The new of the settlement comes on the heels of the firing of network CEO Les Moonves, who was forced out in September after being accused of receiving oral sex from multiple employees, including one woman who was ‘on-call’ to perform whenever he demanded. He has denied the claims.

Little baby
Pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too
Pa rum pum pum pum

I have no gift to bring
Pa rum pum pum pum
That’s fit to give our king

The search continued Friday for the gunman who shot another man in the pedestrian tunnel between two busy Loop subway stations during afternoon rush hour, according to Chicago police. The victim, 27 years old, was hit twice Thursday evening and was stabilized at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

One subway rider told the Tribune he had witnessed another shooting at the same station on the red line last year. He said, quote, “I was thinking what are the chances, the same stop, same time last year?” He went to say, quote, “It’s surprising in the middle of the work week in the loop… That’s crazy.”

Shall I play for you
Pa rum pum pum pum
Pa rum pum pum
Pum pum pum pum

Mary nodded
Pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time
Pa rum pum pum pum

The New York Times reported today that a 40-week pregnant woman was forced by the NYPD to deliver her baby in handcuffs last February at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. Although doctors at the hospital warned police that restraints were illegal in New York and posed serious risks for a woman in labor, officers said their procedures required them to restrain her, superseding state law, according to a lawsuit filed on Thursday.

The un-named woman then 27, struggled for nearly an hour in excruciating labor before the officers yielded, removing some of the restraints. She delivered the baby with her right hand still cuffed to the hospital bed.

I played my drum for him
Pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for him
Pa rum pum pum pum,

Last night in another Twitter tirade, President Trump again labeled the press ‘the enemy of the people.’ A few hours later, a bomb threat was called in to the New York offices of CNN, forcing an evacuation and interrupting a live broadcast. Although the caller said five devices had been planted, police found no explosive devices and staff were able to re-enter the building shortly before midnight.

CNN news reporter Don Lemon called the evacuation, quote, “the new normal,” and drew an explicit link to last October’s pipe bomb threat at the network, quote, “These are the times that we are living in.”

Then he smiled at me
Pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum
Me and my drum
Rum pum pum pum

(all of these news stories were taken from this morning’s editions of The NY Times, Washington Post and Chicago Tribune)

Merry Christmas.

Posted in black lives matter, Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, Christianity, Christmas, donald trump, holidays, mental health, New York City, radio, society | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s been real . . .

imagesI’m killing myself.

I know this. Slowly but deliberately killing myself.

I recently turned 56 and for the first time in my life I feel truly old.

And I talked to my shrink and told her that it took 40 years to figure out what the hell was wrong with me and why and how it happened but that my life was pretty much over so what was the point?

She suggested I continue to hold on to the vibrating hand cones (EMDR) and, well, just do it. She makes money that way.

No one gives a fuck about people my age or older in the US. Unless they’re rich or famous and I am not.

I used to be a journalist and in radio. When use the bathroom in my basement bar I see a front-page article I did on the Illinois State University marching band being invited to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. I wrote the article and took the photo (back in the film day) for the Peoria Journal-Star.

Two weeks ago, I noticed the date on the newspaper was exactly 20 years ago that day. I looked at the writing and didn’t recognize it. I used to be that good? Really?

I’m surrounded by these memories of what I did and who I used to be. I should be proud of them but now it just seems like a room full of epitaphs and eulogies. A world lost.

It’s all over.

And no matter what I do, what I eat, what pills I take, how much I exercise, I am so. Damn. Tired. All. The. Time.

No_One_Cares_(Frank_Sinatra_album_-_cover_art)I have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Almost every night and weekends, I’m drinking, which I suppose is trying to turn my condition into alcoholic liver disease. And smoking cigars too – one a day on avehqdefaultrage.

I tell my doctors none of this. I don’t need the lectures.

I know exactly what I am doing.

One day I’ll be told I need a liver transplant.


But I am not going to get a liver transplant. Even if they didn’t figure out it was from the drinking, I wouldn’t want one anyway. Too much pain, too much money, no ROI.

What would be the point when life if pointless?

I’ve lost the ability to do much. I can’t do the work I want, I can’t find any energy and the inability to feel both mental and physical pleasure makes the rest of life seem vanilla at best.

I try to put up a good front to people but inside I think I’m alr128017-166688eady dead. Because hope died. Without hope there is nothing. And trying to replace those feelings I used to love with toys really doesn’t work.

And all the pills and therapy are not going to change that.

(OK, now It’s really going to turn dark and bitter)

They say that one of the reasons for the increased suicide rate for middle aged men is that men don’t seek help. That’s bullshit. Even if they did seek help, they find themselves sitting across from a usually much younger, more often than not, female therapist who can’t relate to them in any way. It just doesn’t matter.

I hate Donald Trump, Fox News and the GOP. I voted for Hillary. I think the mens’ rights movement is nuts. I hate Illinois Nazis – always have. I’ve been reliably pro-choice even though it meant a serious breach with my mother who was convinced I would go to Hell unless I changed my mind. It’s another reason I can never go back to Catholicism. I’ve bent over backwards to look, listen and learn.

I tried.

I went to a tolerant liberal church where I was accused of spouting white privilege by some snot-nosed punk. To this day I don’t know how.

I worked for a local mental health advocacy group where I was accused of committing a microaggression in telling the story about the SWAT raid on my house because of my illness. Frank Sinatra could do it ‘his way’ I guess I can’t.

So I am done begging to be relevant in progressive causes. It doesn’t mean shit because. . .  we’re old white men. We’re not hot, we’re not hip, we’re not intersectional, we’re not relevant and we’ve done far more harm than good, society says. We’re the bad guys. We’re supposed to disappear — do everyone a favor and die. So we will and do.

Especially those of us who have mental illness and can’t let shit roll off our backs.

So please stop with the concern-trolling articles and the statistics and the pretend caring about suicide. We’re dying for reasons no one really cares about. We’re outdated machinery, unneeded, vanguard of the Patriarchy, incredibly lonely, and even us progressive guys are shunned because: ewww — old guys!

I won’t really be missed and I no longer care.

If you need me for anything, I’ll be in my ‘man cave’ next to the no longer used podcasting mics and mixers and video production equipment; pickling my liver with Scotch, my lungs with cigars and watching You Tube videos of a world I used to know when I was much younger – one I recognize.

And waiting.


 Say a prayer for the Pretender.
Who started out so young and strong
Only to surrender.


Posted in Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, bullshit, Catholicism, death, depression, EMDR, existential dread, Frank Sinatra, mental health, middle age, self-harm, social anxiety, Social Media, society, stigma, suicide | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Unbearable Heaviness of Meeting

I’ve been busy at work lately.

I get home and I collapse.

The work is actually ‘good’ work – going out, interviewing, taking photos, getting my stuff on Facebook.

Good times, right?

Not quite.

Today we had a group of young ladies from a college in Tennessee who were here for a NCAA Division II women’s soccer tournament. What Division II teams do when they come together for these championship series is a lot of community work. Some give soccer clinics to disadvantaged youth, some visit kids in hospitals or do local clean-up work.

And some come to VA hospitals like ours to talk to the Veteran and give out ‘challenge coins’ – large, beautiful coins that signify the unit or team of the giver – something the receiver can remember them by. Some people have many, many of these coins they have collected in military or government service. I have a few.

Anyway, they arrived here and I landed up taking four of these young ladies into one of our wards where they got to meet some of our most interesting Veterans (World War II Vets – I didn’t even know they would be where we were going) and got to give them the coins and talk to them.

It was beautiful all around – the soccer players really made these guys’ day and I know the young women got a lot out it.

I did some interviews, snapped photos, got releases signed and then took the four women back to the rec hall where they met the others in their group.

I went back to the office and promptly collapsed.

Why?! This was good! The whole effort will produce a great feel-good Facebook entry.

Then I realized what was happening.

downloadI had just been surrounded by a large group of people I did not know and through sheer coincidence landed up escorting them down hallways of Veterans’ rooms helping them look for people to talk with. Which is awkward because I don’t know these Veterans and I don’t know the staff on these wards. You see, I don’t get around much.

I don’t normally like wandering the corridors anyway – the nurses tend to wonder what I’m doing there (they don’t know me until they see the badge) and in our ceramics lab where we met the World War II Vets, I was challenged by a volunteer for taking photos (and rightly so) until she saw my badge.

This. All. Makes. Me. Nervous. Yes, it’s damn weird for a public affairs specialist to step way outside his comfort zone by just doing his fucking job.

But that’s me. And I sat with my head in my hands at my desk, trying to recover so I could be useful the rest of the day. And I hated feeling this way because I didn’t used to need to decompress after meeting unfamiliar people. And, of course, I was disgusted with myself for feeling this way.

It was then I realized that, at this point, this job, this place, was all I was ever going to be able to handle. Going from here to a higher speed PR job would solve the ‘institutional bad memories’ problem I have but it would NOT solve the willies I get being around unfamiliar people, especially in groups. My worries are always the same – I’ll make an embarrassing mistake and/or say or do something that will get me in trouble or appear not to know what I’m doing and not be taken seriously.

In reality, these are the opportunities I should take to push myself out of my comfort zone. But after being here eight years, if it hasn’t happened by now, it probably isn’t going to.

The best I can do is slap on a happy face and push myself through and pray I don’t do anything stupid.

And then go home and collapse in bed by 8.

Posted in anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, self care, social anxiety, work | Tagged , , | Leave a comment